Tuesday nights are big for Sarah Schaub, of Salt Lake City, Utah. At 7:00 P.M., the series she stars in is on TV. But if you look for Sarah in front of the television set on a Tuesday night, you probably won’t find her there. Sarah has other things to do, like attend her Young Women activities. She loves acting, but she also knows what things in her life are really important: her family and the gospel. She takes this knowledge with her everywhere she goes.
Whether she’s auditioning in Los Angeles, California, or on the set of her TV series, Sarah lets people know what the gospel is all about. The trait runs in her family.
Sarah, from the Yale Second Ward, Bonneville Utah Stake, plays a young teenage girl on the family-oriented TV series Promised Land. She has also appeared in the feature film A Home of Our Own and in many seminary videos. She has worked with a production company that makes family films, and she makes a point of auditioning for shows that mirror her own values. She also plays the piano, dances, and writes. Yep, she’s pretty busy for a 14-year-old.
Her sister, Cristina, 15, is equally busy. While Sarah loves the screen, Cristina’s joy comes from the stage. She had the lead last year in her school musical Twelve Dancing Princesses. She’s also had roles in local productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 1996, she tried her hand at television and appeared in an episode of Touched by an Angel. But, like Sarah, Cristina doesn’t live for the curtain call. She also sings, dances, and plays the piano. She loves hanging out with her friends and calls seminary one of the best parts of her day.
Both sisters credit their mother, Rosemary, for their diversity of talents and their ability to stay focused on the important things. Rosemary knows Hollywood and the life that comes with it could be rough for her daughters. That’s why she has helped them learn about music, art, and writing. “I think their diversity is what makes them both so good at what they do,” Rosemary says. “I never wanted acting to be the focus. But as we’ve gone along, you can kind of see that it is going that way.”
No matter which way it goes, the Schaub family will continue to make choices that will not only help Sarah and Cristina lead better lives but that will influence the lives of those around them.
As the girls have become more successful, they have prepared for the many difficult choices that will come their way. “If we read through a script and it’s not good, we won’t even audition for it,” Sarah says. “There are millions of scripts that are just awful, and I have to turn down a lot.”
Sarah admits that this has become more difficult. Sometimes a really bad movie will have a great character in it. “As I’ve gotten older, I’m more into the characters and the real essence of acting. I want good, solid roles. It’s harder because some of the characters are really incredible, but the movie is not something we want to do.”
But even if a good character falls into a bad movie, Sarah knows she won’t take the part. That’s just the way the Schaub family works. The gospel is always first. And that means abiding by the values and standards it teaches.
“I think the gospel has always been there,” Cristina says. “When we go on vacation, or to Los Angeles for an audition, it’s just automatic to call and see what time church starts. It’s never, ‘Well, let’s not go this time.’ There’s just something missing if you don’t go.”
Cristina points to the scriptures as her greatest strength. “We always read the scriptures as a family and at church, but it wasn’t until two years ago when I said at New Year’s, ‘I’m going to read the scriptures every day’ that I read them on my own. Now it’s a part of habit. You read your scriptures, say your prayers, and go to bed. It’s an essential part of the day.”
For Sarah, the gospel is most important. She doesn’t know if acting will be a part of the rest of her life. But she does know that the gospel will. “It will be in my life forever. Whatever else comes along will have to work into the gospel,” she says.
Of course, fitting anything more into Sarah and Cristina’s busy lives is a challenge. But they have managed to work things out and have found that prayer is the key to making things fit. A long time ago they freed up some time by deciding not to relocate to Los Angeles but to take parts that are filmed primarily in Utah. That way Sarah and Cristina could still attend their own schools and be near their friends and family. The decision to do so was based on prayer, as are the decisions to read a script or go to an audition.
For Sarah and Cristina, prayer is a part of every audition. “I pray before and after every audition,” Sarah says. “I pray for help that the director will remember me when casting. I also say, ‘Help me to get the part if I’m meant for it; help me to understand why if I don’t get it.’”
Cristina remembers many prayers offered as a family when Sarah was auditioning for Promised Land. “We prayed for a long time together as a family. We didn’t want to do it if it might have a negative effect on the family. We really wanted Sarah to have this opportunity if it would bless our family and if we would be able to bless others. And I think it has.”
Luckily, Promised Land is filmed in Utah, and Sarah has found time to lead a somewhat normal life. “It’s been incredibly hard,” Sarah says, “But it’s actually worked out very well. On my days off I can go to school with my friends. If I have a late call [movie lingo for filming a show later in the day], I go to school in the morning, and if I have an early call and wrap early, then I go to school later. I have my weekends off to be with my friends and with my family on Sunday.”
Promised Land has become a new opportunity for the entire Schaub family to serve and teach others. But trying to bless the lives of others did not begin when Sarah started the series. This family has always had a knack for missionary work. Just ask Margot Stead, a Church member for almost two years now.
It was, in fact, a little more than two years ago that Sarah and Cristina were auditioning in Los Angeles for a few months and met Margot. As Margot came to know the girls and their parents, she came to know the gospel. “I saw it in their eyes and in the way they lived their lives,” she says.
Sarah remembers how she first asked Margot to come to church. “I think the first time she realized we were Mormon, we were all dressed in our Sunday clothes, and we were ready to go to church when she came over. I invited her to come, but she didn’t think she could get ready that fast. But she said she would love to go sometime.”
When the Schaubs returned to Los Angeles a few months later, Margot kept her promise. She even asked to hear the missionary discussions.
On November 26, 1995, Margot was baptized. “They drove 11 hours from Salt Lake to my baptism,” Margot says. “It was the most beautiful day of my life.”
Margot’s baptism was a beautiful day for Sarah as well. She had really struggled with the decision to go to Los Angeles to audition. And when the auditions didn’t turn up any offers for parts, she was a bit disappointed. But when Margot told the family she was to be baptized, Sarah knew why she had gone to L.A.
“After Margot’s baptism, I asked my mom if she thought this was my whole purpose to acting and if now I should quit and go on with my normal life and work hard in school,” Sarah says. “My mom didn’t know. She said we’d have to pray about it. A couple months later I got Promised Land.”
Sarah and Cristina feel continually blessed. They know that their talents and blessings have come as a result of their faith in Jesus Christ and their love of the gospel. When the parts don’t come or when schedules seem too tight to fit anything else in, they remember the scripture their mom has made into the family’s motto: “For of him unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3).
This scripture prompts them to continue serving the Lord. Both Sarah and Cristina have invited members of their casts to hear concerts on Temple Square and to see Legacy at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. If one of the girls is going to talk in church or sing with the choir, they invite a cast member or friend to come hear them. They know that they might be turned down, but they don’t stop asking.
The Schaub sisters don’t stop because they know the gospel, not the spotlight, is what really matters. Sarah says, “You feel incredibly good about yourself when you stand out and people recognize you.” When she says this, she’s not talking about acting. She’s talking about living the gospel, something she and Cristina have never questioned. And that is what truly makes these sisters stars.